Christmas and the holiday season will be very different for many people this year thanks to restrictions in place by the pandemic. Pixabay photo

Christmas and the holiday season will be very different for many people this year thanks to restrictions in place by the pandemic. Pixabay photo

‘This too shall pass:’ B.C. residents work through loss of holiday gatherings, traditions

Finding ways to manage and process the changes COVID-19 presents to seasonal plans

It won’t be the same, but it’s the right decision.

For Elizabeth Young, pandemic restrictions mean a new Christmas reality of not seeing her parents — something many B.C. residents will experience this year.

What makes it particularly difficult, however, for the Courtenay resident is that her father, who lives in Victoria, has just finished cancer treatments and can’t talk on the phone very well. She’s taking a step back navigating the new reality of what the holidays will look like this year, but also accepting what the change will bring.

“…It’s also a bit of a relief to not have to worry about travelling and co-ordinating visits – what if the weather gets bad and things like that? After all the stress and uncertainty this year, I’m actually looking forward to just spending a few extra days at home to rest.”

RELATED: Loneliness taking toll on Canadian mental health in COVID era, study finds

RELATED: B.C. seniors worry more about death from loneliness than COVID-19

Young had the opportunity to visit her family before the provincial travel restrictions were put into place, and she’s looking forward to heading to the south Island for a visit once restrictions are lifted.

“We’ll FaceTime on Christmas so I can see my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and my niece and nephew. It won’t be the same, but it actually feels like the right decision for all of us.”

For those at some of the B.C.’s care homes, the holidays will be focused on finding and creating joy within. Jolene Shaw, community relations manager at Berwick Comox Valley Retirement Community admitted while the year has been difficult, their team is making the best of the situation for their residents.

“We are in the company of people that have endured much in their lives, including world wars. This too shall pass.”

To make Christmas at the Berwick extra special, Shaw explained they are planning to take their residents to Hawaii – or rather – to bring Hawaii to them.

They creating plane tickets and are planning a celebration on Dec. 17 alongside ‘flight attendants’ who will meet residents at the dining room and will offer them a small snack and drink once everyone has gone through ‘flight safety protocol.’ An ‘inflight’ Hawaiian meal alongside hula entertainment will follow, and Santa will join at the conclusion of the meal.

At another care home, Glacier View Lodge, designated visitors are allowed through their COVID-19 protocols, but visits are done in a careful way, noted Liz Friis, director of resident lifestyle and community programs. While activities in past years such as choir and musical performances can’t happen in the same way, staff are finding ways to make events work. Various groups are set to sing outside the lodge while staying socially distant and keeping to their respective bubbles.

“Some visitors can’t come in, so we have lots of options such as a microphone space, a window and we can do FaceTime or the phone.”

The new reality restricting gathering and travel combined with the usual stress of the holidays is making the loss of traditional celebrations “really tangible and undeniable” explained Caroline Bradfield, a registered clinical counsellor with Comox Valley Counselling.

She said the reduced connections to other people along with the lack of traditional rituals and ceremonies this year is adding to a growing sense of overall loss. It’s an emotion our culture has a tendency to move past quickly without spending time processing.

“We have a way of dismissing our own pain and losses; we minimize and ignore it. When we think about humans coping and our stress, humans cope in a couple of different ways. We either over-react and make ourselves too busy or we under-react and isolate and check-out.”

She said humans love to problem solve, and while it is an amazing characteristic, it can also lead to trouble as not all problems are solvable, such as some grief, loss or change.

Sometimes the best way to work through the emotion is to find “someone there in our corner” who will truly listen, validate feelings and empathize.

“If we can listen, and be there with them and not try to fix the losses is a huge part of healing for healing in solidarity. Understanding validates feelings, and it makes us not feel so alone. Loneliness is so crushing; it puts us in a place of helplessness and hopelessness and humans don’t do well in that realm.

“Just to have someone there to turn to is really helpful.”

Looking for places to turn for help? Call the BC Mental Health Support Line (no area code needed): 310-6789; it’s free and available 24 hours a day. The Suicide Hotline is available if you are in distress or worried about someone else; it is free and available 24 hours a day: 1-800-784-2433.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Dep. Fire Chiefs Rich Piché (left) and Stephane Dionne said they were disappointed that only one person showed up at the George Evans fire hall’s recruitment drive Tuesday evening, May. 11. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue says rural fire hall at risk of closing

Home insurance could spike across North Fork if George Evans fire hall loses fire protection status

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A Canadian Pacific train derailed near Nelson on Tuesday evening. Photo: Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press
Canadian Pacific freight train derails near Nelson

There were no injuries or spills related to the incident

File photo.
The Way it Was

1916: Phoenix holds per capita automobile record

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Brad MacKenzie, advocacy chair for the ALS Society of B.C., says having research projects in the province allows people here to have access to cutting-edge treatments now being developed. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds research chair for Lou Gehrig’s disease at UBC

Pandemic has cut off patient access to international projects

Most Read